The United States was chastised recently by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for its reckless tax cutting program which has contributed greatly to the increased the size of the US federal deficit. The IMF expects the US budget deficit to exceed $550 billion over the coming years, a staggering five percent of America’s yearly economic output. According to Kenneth Rogoff, IMF Economic Counselor, the United States is on the “biggest external borrowing rampage in the history of the world with current account deficits projected at five percent for as far as the eye can see.” With the USA sucking up cash from domestic and world markets and savings accounts to feed its perpetual war programs, little room remains for private investors to borrow at reasonable interest rates. Productivity is set to decline since American businesses have fired all the employees they can and, subsequently, have outsourced millions of jobs to foreign countries. To alleviate the coming disaster, the IMF recommends that the US reenact the Budget Enforcement Act which would bring back some sort of fiscal reality to the regime in Washington, DC.
So what gives here? Since when does the IMF lecture the USA!? For that answer, we have to back to the year 2000.
From 2000 to 2003, a mere 36 months, the US federal budget and state budgets, have collectively gone from budget surplus to budget deficit. It’s far too easy to blame the mentality of the dot.com era and toss around terms like overvaluation. That’s the Wall Street version. There’s more to it than that. Since 2000, the current administration has gone out of its way to downsize and demean government (and its employees) at every level choosing only to promote and fully fund the military-industrial complex and intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security functions. In this administration’s view, every other government function, including social security, belongs in the private sector where the administration’s friends, family and assorted shady connections can make a profit. To them, government provides a smoke screen to move money around, to increase the take. Each day, Americans learn that “their” government has lied to them. Fudged unemployment figures, misleading environmental reports, flimsy and false intelligence, and censored news are all designed to keep the investors fat and happy and the facts locked away from the public.
It is a clever system that Saddam Hussein or Benito Mussolini would recognize and, arguably, could effectively preside over. Such is the system that America’s head cheerleader in charge, George “The Lip” Bush (moniker given to Bush, the head cheerleader for Phillips Academy, Andover, full-contact football in the 1960’s) now promotes and operates in. It’s always worth recalling that Bush II was inserted into the oval office by the US Supreme Court in 2000 amidst documented election fraud in the state of Florida. And it is always worth remembering that Al Gore (starting center and captain of Saint Albans’ full-contact football team in the 1960’s) won the popular vote by 600,000. Looking backwards, it is clear that the US began its slide to a third rate power in November of 2000 as its voting mechanisms are easily corrupted. In 2003, voter fraud in both the electronic and paper realms continues to bring into question the legitimacy of some holding office and the very foundations of American democracy.
Empty Lives and Crumbling Infrastructure
With the will of the electorate dangerously ignored and the election stolen, the aborted election of 2000 produced an illegitimate president whose tortured thinking, mangled language, false machismo and sideline qualities have guaranteed that Bush and his followers will live forever in ignominy. In Bush, millions of discontented and empty Americans-those who could never make the team or grade and who live vicariously through myth, cinema, sports and the military, and, not coincidently, cheer the loudest for conflict-have their day. They are the ruthless and conniving neo-conservatives and Chicken Hawks. They are the pitiful people who rename French Fries to Freedom Fires. They are the Janus-faced millions who pledge allegiance to mythical gods and Israel ahead of the here-and-now problems besetting the United States of America. They are the lazy Americans who refuse to take the time to dig for the facts through tools like the Internet depending instead on the government and big media. They are the silent and cowardly racists who long to be vocal about their hatred of minorities and immigrants.
Like a wrecking ball through a building, these people, cheered on by Bush have destroyed government programs designed to improve the quality of American life and decrease the suffering of the poor and unemployed. They have charred the reputation of all Americans by engaging in war for the flimsiest of rationales and they have squandered any good will that the USA could muster internationally by undercutting every treaty and international governing body. The USA ranks last among industrialized nations in the provision of non-military foreign assistance to developing nations as a percentage of Gross National Product. Then again, if the USA can’t take care of itself, what is the world to expect?
The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will come out with another of its “infrastructure report cards” on September 4, 2003. That report assesses the quality of roads, bridges, school buildings, water systems, and electrical grids. The ASCE gave the infrastructure a grade of D+ in 2001 and suggested that $1.3 trillion was needed to fix things up. Given the swelling federal and state deficits, tax cuts and uncontrolled defense spending, it is unlikely that anything more than patchwork to the nation’s infrastructure can be made. If the following teaser by ASCE is any guide, a D+ may be the high water mark. “On September 30, the federal Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21) will expire, leaving our nation without a coordinated directive for preserving and improving our roads, bridges and transit systems. Also up for federal reauthorization are the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act. Are we headed for more catastrophes like the recent blackouts that crippled parts of the Northeast and Midwest, or are we making progress on raising the grade of America’s infrastructure above a D+?”
The CIA’s World Factbook 2003, buttresses the arguments above indicating that “The war in March/April 2003 between a US-led coalition and Iraq shifted resources to military industries and introduced uncertainties about investment and employment in other sectors of the economy. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups.”
Given the economic mismanagement of the Bush team and the cloudy economic outlook for the USA, it comes as no surprise that corporations have ranked China as the number one place to do business, or that investors seek the safe havens of countries that are investing heavily in infrastructure and education.
US Victories in Afghanistan and Iraq?
The vaunted military and intelligence and federal law enforcement machinery of the USA failed miserably on September 11, 2001. On that day while US civilian aircraft commandeered by Saudi Arabians and Egyptians destroyed New York’s World Trade Centers and a portion of the Pentagon in Virginia, Bush, the commander in chief, sat mumbling in a classroom in Florida while the armed forces and federal law enforcement agencies sat idle. While not “militarily significant”, according to the Pentagon, some 3,000 individuals of all nationalities lost their lives in an event that was predicted and gamed out by terrorist experts in the Pentagon and the world over. The Bush Administration’s incompetence led to a tragedy on that day and its arrogance in the days and months that have followed have brought more pain and suffering to all Americans and the world’s citizens.
On September 12, 2001 in what should have become an unprecedented civil law enforcement investigation to capture the terrorist accomplices and bring them to trial by jury instead turned into the planning subsequent invasion and occupation of both Afghanistan and Iraq. In both cases victory was declared and then undeclared. Two years on, the Taliban have retaken control of large sections of Afghanistan and the rebuilding of that country promised by the USA has not occurred. In Iraq, the situation continues to deteriorate as the US suffers casualties each day at the hands of a growing resistance army that includes Sunni’s and Shia’s united in their hatred of Americans. The US occupying forces are now employing the nefarious secret police operatives who served Saddam Hussein so well. In an odd twist, the US did the same in 1945 by employing SS and Nazi operatives who served Adolf Hitler.
What is one to make of the US military might in these two instances? Both were conventional technological and organizational mismatches favoring Americans. The Afghanistan victory came against an opponent with no air force, no navy, no unified army, no marine corps, and no coast guard. Victory was declared against this netherworld country (at one point during the conflict, an American Air Force General said seriously, “We have achieved air superiority.”) but to this day the war goes on and American soldiers rarely venture out from their heavily fortified bases.
Technically, on September 12, 2001, the Invasion of Iraq began. No-fly zone mission packages were expanded to aggressively pursue targets in and out of the no-fly zones. Special operations crews were inserted behind enemy lines to begin air control operations and to sabotage Iraq’s critical infrastructure and undercut support for Saddam Hussein. In 2003, the US military machine rolled over Iraq in thirty days. But, just like Afghanistan, Iraq had no air force, no navy, no unified army, no marine corps, and no coast guard. Victory was declared in Iraq, yet the war rages on and American soldiers die each day at the hands of the Iraqi rebels.
So can Bush claim his war record is 2-0 in 2003, as he no doubt does? Do these “victories” get asterisks that show a mismatch as occurred in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898 in which the forces of the British led by Lord Kitchener slaughtered the Sudanese Army (13,000 Sudanese killed, 48 British killed)?
Third World Logic of Leaders Kim Jong II and George Bush II
Perhaps nowhere is the third world nature of Bush and his countrymen and women more evident than in the design of nuclear weapons policy. The Bush Administration wants to upgrade and test the next generation of nuclear weapons. Did it have any meaningful role in the glorious victories over Afghanistan and Iraq? The answer is, of course, no. The nuclear forces of the United States, and for that matter most nations, are for chest pounding for the testosterone addicted. For the US to let loose its destructive nuclear power would be senseless if only for the simple reason that foreign markets mean domestic livelihood. Let one fly, say, to North Korea, and the Chinese, South Koreans and Japanese are not going to be pleased with the fallout.
Feeling paranoid like his third world counterpart in North Korea, Kim Jong II-and demonstrating the same intellectual capacity–Bush has the US embarking on a nuclear weapons upgrade and testing program. The Lip is going to build a ballistic missile defense system, which has failed all tests to date, to insure that no other nation can successfully deploy its nuclear weapons against the United States. In this twisted logic which is official “Bush Doctrine”, nuclear weapons that will never be used by the US for fear of the fallout they would cause, or that will never be used to attack the US by other nations possessing them for fear of massive retaliation by the US, are going to be stopped by a ballistic missile defense system that will never be used because not only does it not work, but no one will ever know that because no nation state will launch a nuclear missile at the USA.
If Americans don’t believe they are in a third world country, they had best think again.
JOHN STANTON is a Virginia based writer specializing in national security and political matters. He is the author, along with Wayne Madsen, of America’s Nightmare: The Presidency of George Bush II. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org